Italian Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

The Enrico Bernardi Motorcycle

A Brief History of the Italian Marque

Manufactured: 1893-1901

Considered the first Italian motorcycle, this machine was built in Padua by Professor Enrico Zeno Bernardi. It was a four-stroke engine on a trailer attached to a conventional bicycle, known as a Rimorchietto .

Enrico Bernardi (20 May 1841 – 21 February 1919) exhibited a strong interest in mechanical engineering from an early age, and received an honorable mention for a model steam engine at the Verona Agricultural Show of 1856 when he was 15.

He entered university in 1859, was granted a doctorate in mathematics in 1863, became dean of the Royal Institute and then a Professor in 1878. He was director of the Padua University Institute of Machinery from 1879 until 1915.

Bernardi's first petrol engine appeared in August of 1882, at roughly the same time as that of Karl Benz. The 121.6cc engine powered his daughter's sewing machine and was fitted to his son's tricycle. Named the Motrice Pia, this machine is considered by many to be the first motorcycle,

A Padova company named Miari & Giusti began producing the engines and vehicles powered by them in 1894, and was soon taken over by Società Italiana Bernardi. Production ceased in 1901.

Bernardi is well remembered - there is a Museo delle Macchine "Enrico Bernardi" in Padua, and an asteroid, 25216 Enricobernardi, was named for him.

N.B. There is another Bernardi produced much later: Bernardi of Bologna

Sources: MC Storico Conti,, et al.